Western New Jersey

Thor Frey retrial begins by showing graphic crime scene images to jury

Retrial of man convicted of murdering woman starts in NJ

BELVIDERE, N.J. - The retrial of a man convicted in the 2006 murder of a Warren Co., N.J., woman began Thursday morning with a return to the scene of the crime.

The prosecution's first witness against Thor Frey was crime scene investigator Stephen J. Matuszek, and part of his testimony was a 30-minute DVD he made of the inside and outside of the home of 75-year-old Mary Bastion, of Phillipsburg, on the day she was murdered: Aug. 18, 2006.

The DVD showed a broken basement window, a screwdriver and hammer on the living room floor, a cord that had been ripped from a telephone and wrapped around an oven door handle, a purse that had been rifled through, empty jewelry boxes, a bedroom that was turned upside down, and pieces of wood that had held a safe inside a closet, and a hole in a closet wall where the safe had been pulled out.

The DVD also showed a medallion that Matuszek later identified as having a Hammer of Thor design, but the most graphic part of the DVD showed Bastion's partially exposed body bound hand and foot with cord lying lifeless alongside her bed.

Matuszek also identified several still photos from the crime scene, which were then given to jurors to inspect.

During cross-examination by defense attorney Michael Priarone, Matuszek said he did not know how long the crime scene had been cordoned off before he arrived, or who had been there before him.

Matuszek also admitted he was never able to identify a white powder at the scene which he initially thought was broken sheet rock.

Priarone suggested it might have been insulation from the door of a safe.

A second prosecution witness, Thomas A. Carroll, a detective in the Warren County prosecutor's office, said he came across the medallion while searching the home on the day of the murder and made a sketch of it.

After putting on surgical gloves, Carroll took the medallion from an evidence envelope. He then held the medallion in his right hand and his sketch, which was in a plastic envelope, in his left hand and walked in front of the jury box so both could be inspected.

Frey sat impassively next to his attorney. He was brought into the courtroom handcuffed and shackled, wearing a charcoal gray suit and a black and rust-patterned tie, clean shaven, with his black hair cut short.

On his way to his seat, he winked at his mother, Carol Ehrie, and two of her cousins and mouthed the words "I love you."

As the trial broke for lunch, he smiled and waved at them as he was again shackled and handcuffed.

Frey, who was sentenced to 40 years in prison, is being retried because convictions of first-degree murder, burglary, robbery and criminal mischief were vacated in 2011.

The judge said that instead of burglary, Frey should have been charged with receiving stolen property for accepting money. The robbery charge made Frey eligible for a felony-murder conviction.

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